“Like a Battering-Ram”: The Place of Language in Levinas’s Thought

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The writings1 of Levinas address several existential questions, which relate to the primacy of ethics as ‚first philosophy,‛ 2 and set up language as a system that enable ethical behavior in a concrete manner. However, there is no separate discussion of language, so it might seem that it derives from the transcendent intentionality that precedes it. As a result, there is a blurring of the connections between the ways in which language functions as a point of departure, at whose basis lies the freedom of choice between a commitment to the ‚I‛ and responsibility towards the ‚Other.‛ This article extracts from Levinas’s writings examples of the turning point and shows how language makes it possible to formulate possibilities, and select among them. Levinas’s talmudic readings
are a special and central example of this process.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)297-318
Number of pages22
JournalAthens Journal of Humanities & Arts
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

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Query date: 2022-06-08 08:21:34


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